Nicole Cadet Fantasy Art

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Cover art Walkthrough - Sword's Call

This is an old post, I'll be adding some of the informational posts back to my blog!

Thumbnail sketch

I did about 6 thumbnails, but am considering the possibility of recycling the poses for futures covers in the series or other paintings, so I’m keeping them to myself for now. I did a couple of scrappy pencil sketches as well which I discarded as I didn’t like them.

Sketch Thumbnail



I gathered lots of reference photos and drew up the sketch. I had trees, faces, castles, rocks, wolves, swords, armour…

Trees are evil, I ended up simplifying some parts and detailing others. I worked closely with references, but there were a lot of random guesses Anyone who saw me photographing random trees in my pjs (I was in the back yard!) would have seriously wondered what I was doing.

Detailed sketch

Colour tests

I did up a few different colour studies and allowed the client to choose

Colour sample 1 - a really warm orange palette

Colour sample 2 - Still warms, but more forest tones

This is what we went with - pink was a big focus

A cooler toned sample

Final image

And yes, all those trees and rocks will likely end up covered with text. Also, yes the characters are set far back, but you have to plan for text, and printing bleed.

Sword's Call - The final image 


Layout work added at a later stage

Originally I was only contracted to do the illustration so and I had no layout information. I had to make educated guesses as to the text treatment given I only had the title and the Author's name, and a rough cut of the blurb. Designing without full details like series icons/ text, bylines, the type of text the client wants and the likes can be interesting. Mostly when I don't have direction, or it's limited, I try and keep the top and bottom of the illustration fairly 'dead' zones so that the client has a few different choices (as well as the back half fairly devoid of illustration). Also the more things going on on the cover, the less space you have for text - which is pretty important when you're trying to sell a book. This was one of my first covers so there are things I'd probably do a bit different, but you can only apply that knowledge to the next piece! 

Design work was done in collaboration with the author (the author wanted Celtic inspired fonts), with the two Icons provided by another designer.

The Ebook version

The wraparound cover

A mock-up done

The Audio book rendering 

Two more books were done for this series, I'll be posting walkthroughs in the future. 

Love's Call - Book 2

Book 3 - Rogue's call


If you want to work with me on a project, please contact me for a custom quote